New California Law Designed to Save Lives
(Los Angeles, Feb. 14, 2005) — As National Child Passenger Safety Week begins, the Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding parents that a new law requires children up to six years or 60 pounds to ride only in the back seat.
This new law, which took effect January 1 and was supported by the Auto Club, augments previous regulations by keeping children in the back seat, away from airbags that may deploy in a crash. In 2001, child safety restraint regulations were expanded to include children up to six years old or 60 pounds.
"Airbags are a wonderful safety device for drivers and passengers, but they are designed to protect adults in a crash," said Patrice Frazier, managing director of school and community affairs for the Auto Club. "Children are at risk of serious injury or death from the force of a deploying airbag if they are in the front seat during a crash. The back seat is where a child belongs and this law recognized that."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration designates February 13–19 as National Child Passenger Safety Week. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2003, 1,591 children under 15 years old died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes. Approximately 220,000 were injured. Of all the children killed, more than half were unrestrained in the vehicle.
"Most of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if the children had been properly restrained in age-appropriate restraint systems," Frazier said.
Exceptions to the law are: If rear seats are not available, if the rear seats are rear or side facing, if a restraint system cannot be safely installed, if all rear seats are occupied by children under the age of 12, or if a medical condition prevents the child from riding in the rear seat.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa-calif.com.